Hello, Winter

hello-winter

Yay, the winter is here! Officially. I was super happy with the fact, that it has been snowing for few days. Now almost all of the snow is melted, and we are back to the gloomy, cold and dark Autumn kind of weather. But I am already counting the days till Christmas (that is 23 days left).
My Christmas present list is not even on the paper yet, not to talk about presents. But I already found time to decorate my Christmas tree (priorities are clear). Let’s just say, that I will get my Christmas season mood together pretty soon, and then I will share some Christmas-y posts here. For now, let’s keep our fingers crossed for more snow!

 

Does your blog provides the best UX?

Does your blog provides the best UX (user experience) for your visitor? Check out this simple list of UX features to have on your blog.

Features to have on your blog, to make sure your visitor gets the best UX (User Experience)

UX was something me and my boyfriend recently had few disagreements about. So I googled. I googled a lot. And this got me thinking about UX in general, and how to actually make a website that crates the best UX along with good design and good content of course. But let’s talk about UX now.
UX is a User Experience on the website, and it counts in everything – loading speed, intuitive usage, good picture quality, responsiveness, ability to find what the user came to find. When you own a website, you actually want a visitor to stay as long as it can, so you create the environment in which user can easily navigate without thinking about it for too long.
I want to talk about blogs in particular – the features and things that every blog should have in order to create a good user experience and create environment, in which your visitor can focus on the content instead of looking for one thing or another.
Overall :
  1. Good quality pictures – that seems like a no brainer, but even Kanye can’t handle that. Whenever I go to a website with bad quality pictures, it looks fishy to me and I can’t focus on the content.
  2. Responsiveness – your website should have a perfectly working versions that would fit every screen – desktop, tablet or mobile. Especially these days, when so many of our readers visit us on their mobile phones or other portable devices.
  3. Loading speed – If the page loads for too long, user can give up and ever even come trough your website. I know I do that. You can check your website loading speed here and you will get more detailed information on what could be done to improve it.
More detailed :
  1. Home button – it really annoys me, when the logo of the website does not take me to the home page. A killer. But also, sometimes, I want to see an actual button that says “home” on it. I might wandered somewhere and I want to teleport home, is it too much to ask?
  2. About me page or widget – user want to access it at any given time. Whenever I go to a website, especially blog, half of the time I end up reading about page. That creates sort of image on the blogger, a backstory too.
  3. Contact page – you want a potential customer to actually be able to reach you easily. Create a contact page, with all the contact information you are willing to share with a stranger. You might even consider adding a Contact form (I use this plugin for adding a contact form).
  4. Search – Search bar should be accessible at any given time too. See, I get really annoyed when I visit a blog, and can’t find a search bar. Say, I might have seen the post that I liked, that was posted 6 months ago.  If blogger posts almost every day, I have to look trough many many many pages to reach that post. I rather say never mind.
  5. Archive page – for the same reason there is a search bar, but f.e. I can’t remember the post name. Or what was it about. Or I just want to see all posts in one place. It can be chronological, and you can see archives by month, or it can be visual, and you would see icons of every post. Both is the best.
  6. Social media – whenever I really like the page, I go to their Instagram account, then Pinterest. You want the stream to go both ways – from your website to your SM, vice versa.
  7. Newsletter – newsletter is the best practice to remind of your existence to your visitors. I subscribe to the website whenever I like the content, because I know I might actually forget about the website. There is a plugin, to add a newsletter form to your website.
  8. Categories – even if you write about one topic, there are some subcategories, and maybe your user is only interested in that one particular subtopic. Let it be. Let your user access all that your user needs easily by adding categories somewhere, when the user can find them instantly.
These features are usually build in your template or a plugin – all you need to do is actually set them up, which will take you few minutes. If your theme doesn’t have some features, you might need a help from a programmer (like creating a visual archive page). But it is totally worth the time – because once you created all of this, your user will be happy and focus on the content. All you need now is some great content.

Portfolio : Trivium website

Trivium website design and development.
I want to share one project of mine, that I recently finished – Trivium.lt website. I’ve been asked to do this project for quite a while, and because it is for my mom’s gallery, I always had other things to do. But I finally finished, and I am very proud with the result.
My mom owns a gallery at her apartment, and she sets up exhibitions of various artist and hosts events that is art, literature or music related. So I wanted to make a website, that would be clean, simple to use and sophisticated.
I did both – design and programming – myself (I am very proud of the programming part). Plus, of course, it is responsive – has a tablet and mobile versions.

Blueberry muffins with crusty topping

These blueberry muffins are not only easy to make - they are moist and berry inside and have a crumbly cookie like topping.
Few days ago, I decided I want to bake something tasty. I actually bake quite a lot, but usually it happens at night, and I cannot take pictures of it. I know muffins don't take a lot of time, and they are super tasty. And I also had some frozen blueberries, that I handpicked myself this summer, so why not to have a little taste of summer in my muffins? Plus, everyone who bakes muffins probably know, that they are kind of moist inside, and I wanted to bake something a bit more special, so these blueberry muffins has a special cookie like crusty topping.
Blueberry muffins with crusty topping recipe
INGREDIENTS
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
113 gr cold unsalted butter
2 cups (275 gr) fresh or frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons (28 gr) unsalted butter

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 180° C

2. Line 12 cup cupcake tin with paper liners or lightly butter the muffin cups.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.

4. Cut the butter into flour mixture and mix it.

5. Set aside 1 cup of flour mixture for topping.

6. To the remaining batter, add the milk, eggs, vanilla and stir just until combined.

7.  Gently fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

8. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with the batter.

9. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons (28 gr) of butter.

10. Stir the butter into reserved cup of flour.

11. Sprinkle about on table spoon of mixture on each muffin.

12. Bake the muffins for about 18 - 23 minutes or until firm and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

13. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool before serving.

This to-do list is pure magic

As an entrepreneur, I have to manage my own time. So I created a magical to-do list system, that made me more productive and got me trough procrastination.

Wingardium leviosa and magical to-do list

As a freelancer it is great to be able to work on your own time schedule. On the other hand, I sometimes get carried away or easily distracted, because no one is actually looking over my shoulder. And on the days that are not so intense, it’s totally okay, but on other days, when you actually need to get your shit together and do some work, it might be a bummer. Being the master of your time, comes with responsibilities – you have to learn to stay on track and own your time.
What is my magic system?
Whenever I felt overwhelmed with tasks and things to-do, I started using my big blank space on the chalkboard wall to list all the things I have to-do. I listed all the things that came to my mind, divided into smaller, doable steps. Especially on big projects, they might take 6 places on my list, but that doesn’t mean that I have to-do everything at once. Step by step is the best way to move, right?
Where is the magic?
First thing in the morning, I see my list, and I decide what am I up to. Maybe today I am up for photography, or maybe for doing some design work, it actually doesn’t matter as long as I do something. Having this big reminder on the wall (and especially when your friends come and start picking on your list) you feel like it needs to get shorter and shorter.
How can you start on your big list of things to-do?
  1. Find a space for your to-do list. It doesn’t have to be a wall, it might as well be a big sheet of paper, that you would stick somewhere, where you can see it often. Don’t rely on a notebook or a piece of paper, or even a list on your desktop (because how often do you sit and look at your desktop) – it has a high chance of being lost or buried during the period of time.
  2. Then, list all the tasks for a week, or a month, or whatever period of time works best for you. My way is weekly.
  3. Divide tasks into smaller ones. F.e. if I have a big branding project, I divide it into logo, homepage design, business cards, brand guidelines, checking up with client etc. For bigger projects I use “one file system” – as long as it is one file, it is my task.
  4. Now work and try out your new system. Don’t forget to enjoy crossing things out :)
Why this method worked for me?
I have a tendency to procrastinate, because I feel like the project is too big and I need to give all my energy to it. When I divide big project into smaller tasks, it gives me clarity, and gives me motivation, so I see that everything is not so scary. One step at the time.
My list is also a big reminder of things I have to-do, I wanna be proud of how much I crossed out during the day.
Third, and most important thing, I believe it is a manifestation to the universe, so the universe will help me out to go trough the list with ease, because as soon as you get something out of your head into the world, it has a way of happening. And that, my friends, is pure magic.
Plus, I want to share my messy to-do list :
img_5146

Monday positivity

Thoughts on Monday and positivity with the beautiful Van Gogh'ish picture of withered flowers.
I found this shot in my archives of withered flowers in my archives, and this got me thinking. There is beauty and positivity in most of the things, you only have to chose to see it. Me, as well as probably most of you, become not a big fan of Mondays, but on the other hand, Mondays for me come with enthusiasm to get trough my work with hope, that this week might be better than the last one, that this week might bring something new and exciting to my life.
And yes, I usually wake up Monday morning thinking about all the deadlines, all the work, and sometimes it feel like 99 problems are weighting my shoulders, but if you relax, make a plan, and work one thing at the time, at the end of the day I am happy with what I’ve done and what tasks I managed to complete. That usually sets me up for good rest of the week. So stay positive and have a great Monday!